2000 - Volume #24, Issue #4, Page #02[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Tractor-Mounted Calf Catcher Makes Handling Calves Safe, Easy
"A year ago, I was tagging a new calf and the mother attacked me. Usually, if a cow knocks you down, that's the end of it. But this one knocked me down and then stomped me twice. I couldn't get out of her way. I figured she was going to kill me but the calf bawled and ran off and she finally followed it," he recalls.
Last winter, Jeffries put together an eight-sided calf catcher that mounts on the arms of his tractor's front-end loader. The catcher is really a miniature portable corral. It's 10 ft. across and 54in. high, constructed of 1-in. and 2-in. round steel tubing and lined with steel fence panels.
To make the catcher, Jeffries bent 20-ft. lengths of 2-in. tubing so that two pieces laid together made an octagon. Using three lengths of tubing, one at the top, one in the center and one at bottom, he welded lengths of 1-in. tubing between them to reinforce and space the sides to a height of 54 in. Then he bent and welded the horse fence panels to the inside.
"I made it 54 in. high for a couple of reasons," Jeffries says. "I looked at steel fence panels and the ones they sold as horse panels were that height, so I made it match them. It's high enough that the cow won't try to get in, but not too high to handle."
Once he had the two sides of the hexagon put together, he welded a length of 1/4-in. angle iron at each end. Four bolts through each pair of angle irons hold it together. He can disassemble it by just removing eight bolts.
He installed a portable arm that hangs over the inside of the catcher about 20 in., with a length of chain and a scale so he can weigh baby calves while he's processing them.
Inside the catcher along one side, he built a smaller rectangular shaped pen just big enough for the calf.
"If I need to take the calf and cow out of the pasture, I can put the calf in the pen and then slowly move it along and the cow will follow," he says.
He also cut and hinged a 30-in. wide section of the catcher panel to make a door so he could get in and out more easily. Jeffries says the door also allows him to load animals into a trailer or truck.
He can catch more than just calves with it, too. "I recently used it to catch a mature cow that had come up lame. I haltered her and cleaned her foot," he says. And he's used it to catch her again to check the foot.
Making the brackets so it would fit the loader arms on his tractor wasn't that difficult, he says. "I bought some square tubing and split it open enough to get arms from the end loader to fit. Then I welded the tubing to the catcher."
The catcher cost Jeffries under $900 to put together.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Larry Jeffries, Santa Gertrudis Farm, 1825 R. Mitchell Road, Horse Cave, Ky. 42749 (ph 270 565-2132).
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